It’s confusing…will schools reopen for in-person learning, be online, or opt for a hybrid model? No matter how much planning can or has been done over the summer, the outcome of “what’s around the corner?” has everyone wondering. This is when the patience of Job is going to really be tested. In addition, the impact of enrollment for higher Ed institutions is yet to be determined so late in the registration cycle. What all institutions are experiencing is unprecedented, and the impact will not only influence the 2020/2021 school year but many years in the future.
As students and parents determine the value of on-campus/in-person learning vs. online classes, the financial implications have rippling effects. While most think online learning provides institutions with a higher profit margin, the loss of room and board, facility rental, and bookstore revenue is significant, becoming major challenges now and in the future. This does not just apply to four-year institutions and graduate schools, but also to community colleges.
It’s interesting that the percentage of students that prefer in-person learning has not changed as a result of COVID-19; it remains steady at over 70%. While most students are open to some level of online learning, there is naturally a strong desire to socially interact with others. They see that as a key component of campus life. This is why most higher Ed institutions are pressing for a hybrid model, combining both in-person and online classes (if not prohibited by state guidelines). It should also be noted that once a decision is made, unsafe student behavior and other events may cause institutions to alter their plans. Over the past week alone, we’ve already seen a number of schools close their campuses due to a spike in positive coronavirus cases.
As higher Ed administrators look to understand all the implications, three+one®’s MC forecast model® is becoming a very valuable tool for them in determining short-term liquidity levels and needs. While historical data is used to determine future patterns, potential implications of the “unexpected or anomalies” can be incorporated to determine possible scenarios over the coming months. This information can be found to be extremely useful in evaluating the impact on cash reserve funds or the need to tap into lending facilities or potential emergency endowment funds.
COVID-19 poses challenges for every single public entity and higher Ed institution. Just know that three+one® is by your side to help you answer the question “What now?”
It’s 8:00 am on a Monday morning, you grab a mug of coffee and turn on your computer only to have a screen pop-up alerting you that you and everyone else in your organization has been locked out, and all systems and information have been hacked. To make matters worse, you’re told to pay a ransom of $250,000 in digital currency to regain access to your own system; fail to pay and all access and information will be wiped out.
You freeze and wonder who in the world do I call to alert and help figure out our next steps. What to do?
Unfortunately for many public entities and higher Ed institutions this is becoming all too common. But help is on the horizon.
Did you know a network of public, corporate, and higher Ed professionals is available on a 24/7 basis to help you deal with such a crisis? It’s through the National Association of Counties (NACo) Cybersecurity Collaborative. The collective purpose of this network is to proactively strengthen America’s counties to better defend and protect themselves, their communities, and our economy from a cyberattack.
Consider this NACo collaborative as your entity’s cybersecurity SWAT team. It provides a knowledge-transfer platform that gives access to top-tier public and private cybersecurity professionals. Networking together, these professionals are able to give you the latest information, intelligence, best practices, and resources to counter a cyberattack.
- Daily security news and a security alert portal
- Peer-to-peer exchange through community discussion
- Real-time security task forces and SWAT teams
- Online training, webinars, and live tech demos
- Security research and a report repository
- Membership directory
For more information, go to (https://www.naco.org/resources/cost-saving-tools/cybersecurity-collaborative)
In addition, NACo has gone a step further in offering a tailored cyber-education series through its Professional Development Academy’s Cybersecurity Leadership Program. It is a 12-week, PhD-facilitated, peer-based learning program focused on developing vital leadership capabilities. Developing the program involved over 3,000 executives, tens of thousands of hours of executive experiences, and some 150 focus groups. It is all part of a proprietary learning management system specifically designed to help public entity leaders improve their cybersecurity skills—and make them ready to meet unknown challenges.
To learn more, please go to naco.org/cyberskills.
As a fintech company, three+one® believes useful information we can provide to the clients we serve can help them better protect themselves—and those they serve.
The ability to see trends developing well in advance—while planning for future challenges—is Job #1 for any fiduciary serving in the public or private arena.
One trend surfacing over the last several years has been the upcoming enrollment challenge for educational institutions.
The correlation between hard economic times and a lower birth rate exists. This is especially true for the period of 2008-2009, when our country encountered one of its greatest financial crises since the Great Depression of the 1930s. During that period of uncertainty, a lower birth rate (by double digits!) occurred.
Years later, the results of that lower birth rate are having a dramatic effect on secondary schools with lower enrollments, also in double digit decrease. This has directly affected the infrastructure, personnel staffing, and financial levels that are all based on a historically normal school student body size.
While the lower birth rate indicates a bounce back from 2010 and years hence, the window of opportunity to address a smaller student body is present if addressed proactively. Any reaction would be seen as too late to protect against a significant financial downside.
It is important to note that this effect on secondary education now will become an inevitable tidal wave to hit higher Ed institutions in a relatively short time.
The financial and competitive environment in 2026 and 2027 could be enough of a factor to reshape an institution or even threaten its survival.
This is the time for higher Ed boards of trustees and administrators to plan for this event, especially since the trend is an undeniable fact.
The university for which I serve as a trustee is already planning for this upcoming period. With a proactive liquidity strategy put in place three years ago, this university has viewed and managed all cash as an asset that will generate over $7 million in new revenue. That “cushion” will serve as a reserve for possible disruption in tuition cash flow over the coming years.
The ability to put a strategy in place for such a disruption will be expected by fiduciaries to institutions serving the public and student bodies.
At three+one®, our proprietary cashvest® platform can formulate a liquidity strategy while also providing a new source of revenue that can be used to build your reserve funds to strong and surprising levels.
The year 2026 need not be higher Ed’s Achilles heel. Rather than inducing panic, this pivotal year, just six years out, should be viewed as an opportunity to reshape the financial strength of higher Ed. We see the future of education to be extremely bright, with greater diversity and eager minds with a global perspective.
With sound financial planning, started well in advance, we can preserve the foundation of great education, today and for generations to come.